The new Visions series of the Chinese Astilbes (A. chinensis
)are more drought tolerant than the others, so if your garden area dries out in mid-summer, these may be the best choices.
About Astilbes: Easy to grow, tough and hardy, Astilbes are now a mainstay in all good perennial gardens. In fact, American gardeners are in the midst of a passionate love affair with Astilbes. Native to the far east, these beautiful plants and their hybrids have revolutionized the perennial possibilities of moist, shaded American gardens. They are companions of ferns and our favorite annuals, impatiens--one of the few flowers that make big color in full or partial shade.
The vast majority of the scores of hybrids now available are the work of one man, master hybridizer Georg Arends (Yes, that's why you keep seeing arendsii tacked onto hybrid names.) Mr. Arends, working in Ronsdorf, Germany spent decades hybridizing Sedums, Phlox, Campanulas....and his first love, Astilbes. In 1933, Arends introduced 74 different Astilbe cultivars, and there have been hundreds since.
These plume-flowered plants have ultra-handsome fern-like foliage, (usually dark glossy green) and stiff stems that always hold the elegant plumes aloft without any staking. Flower arrangers find the flower plumes are just as handsome in a vase as in a garden.
From tiny dwarfs to big draping hybrids, Astilbes are all quite easy to grow, as long as their ground does not dry out for long. They must have plenty of moisture, so choose your locations carefully.